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Stillness That Lives

Day 1 of the public workshop by Amy and Hino sensei.

Despite the fact that February is a hard month to gather people for an event like this, there were more participants than expected. About a half of them had taken the previous workshop in October. A few new faces.

The workshop had two main focus points: the objective eye and relationship-- How can we develop the awareness of being seen and use that for expression? and how can we create a "real" relationship on the stage?

They started out with taking pictures of their First Position for comparison later on. It also served as an obvious but very useful means to see oneself from the audience's perspective.

Then they did Kyokotsu stretch, Rendo (connected movement), and twisting exercises not only to improve First Position but also to get to know their bodies deeper.

After all this, they took pictures again in the same position. They were delighted to know that the difference they felt in the body was actually visible and real in the pictures.

The second half of the workshop was about relationship. Hino sensei demonstrated what relationship is on the stage by touching someone's arm with his hand.

"You touch things in daily life all the time, right? But you never touch it by feeling the temperature, the texture, or the weight of the thing you're touching. You do it automatically, without really feeling anything. When you touch someone like that, the two of you look like two separate entities, not connecting. But if you can touch someone like this.." Hino sensei held Amy's arm as if to listen to everything about her and of her with his hand. "You see? We look like one unit, right? This is what it is to be in relationship with someone, to connect with someone."

Every participant then began listening to his/her partner with such concentration and focus. The room quietened, the air got dense. The space changed. There was stillness that lived. "That's what you need on the stage!" Hino sensei exclaimed.

Then they moved onto the moving-together exercise. Person A does the Kyokotsu stretch, and Person B touches A's back to feel the rythm of A. After a while, B sends a signal to A to walk forward together. This signal is a very subtle physical cue, which almost feels telepathic. A should not feel "being pushed" by B but rather like "being guided" by B. The exercise also requires a tremendous amount of listening and a certain degree of confidence in communicating.

Once they got used to the exercise, Hino sensei asked them to do the same thing as a group of three people; one person touches two persons' backs.

At the end of the session, they did First Position again, incorporating all the things they'd done for the day. The Kyokotsu stretch lifted up their posture, the connected movement made them look straighter and steadier, and the relationship-related exercises made them look lighter and more present as if they were connected to something greater. "You see, even in the simplest form like First Position there are a lot of elements you can practice and improve. That is also a part of practice: to be able to find elements that consist a form," Hino sensei concluded.

"Thank you very much. I'm very excited to come again tomorrow," one of the participants said with a beaming smile.

Disclaimer: Budo Ballet Initiative is not associated with Real Contact Project. What you read in this blog are the personal thoughts and observations made by Yuko Takeda. They are not meant to officially document or represent the Budo Ballet Initiative project. For those who are interested in knowing the entirety of the project, please contact Amy Raymond.

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